8 Open Concept Layout Mistakes We Should All Stop Making

published Jan 27, 2019
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(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

For as spacious as the layout may be, designing an open concept home can be tricky. Along with figuring out the right way to arrange your furniture, you’re often stuck with the daunting task of forging distinct areas inside a lofty, wall-less space.

Thankfully, we know a few space-savvy designer friends to call upon for help. We reached out to eight interior design aficionados for advice on what not to do when you’re laying out your open concept living area. Here’s what they had they had to say.

1. Putting All the Furniture Against the Walls

“A common mistake people make with an open concept space is thinking that all the furniture should be against the walls. An open concept room is a great place to get creative with floating furniture, like a desk or a daybed.” — Alyssa Kapito, Alyssa Kapito Interiors

2. Inconsistent Flooring

“Not being consistent with flooring is a big mistake for a space with an open concept. Area rugs should be utilized to clearly define each space, but specifying a single material for the flooring will marry a living room with a kitchen or dining space. — Jennifer Weisberg, JLW Interiors

3. Being Too Open

“With open concept living spaces, I find that there’s the paradox of wanting to have lots of openness, but also wanting smaller intimate spaces for connection. It’s helpful to keep certain areas open for larger gatherings, but also create intimate nooks, like a reading corner or small workspace, so you have spots you can hang out alone in too.” — Anjie Cho

4. Not Establishing Zones

“When designing an open concept space, focus on delineating functional areas. Incorporate an area rug or drop a light fixture to ground the space and maximize the layout.” — Brittany Zwickl, STUDIO LIFE.STYLE

5. Ignoring Foot Traffic Flow

“One of the biggest mistakes you can make when laying out an open concept home is not taking the flow of traffic between spaces into consideration. Determine functionally conducive walkways between each space first, then lay out furniture so the flow of traffic is not compromised.” — Jennie Bishop, Studio Gild

6. Being Overly Matchy

“An open concept space does not need to be a matchy-matchy experience and should include furniture at a variety of heights. Overall, a space should feel like it is filled with a collection of objects accumulated over one’s lifetime thus far, and not just a bunch of rectangular shapes upholstered in the same fabric. The best way to create the illusion of subdivision is to use contrasting, rather than matching, overhead lighting in the living, dining, and kitchen areas.” — Julia Leigh Sergeon, The Camp Interior Design

7. Poor Lighting

“Lighting is an amazing way to help delineate space within an open plan and something that is often not given enough consideration. It creates a sense of drama or intimacy, even when one space flows directly into the next. Areas with more recessed lights or decorative fixtures define smaller spaces within the larger context, whereas the absence of light implies a threshold. ” — Kelly Rosen Lagrange, Kelly Rosen Design

8. Sparse Seating Arrangements

“So nobody has to yell to have a conversation, make sure to divide the open space to create intimate seating areas. Any large gatherings will naturally break into smaller conversations, so keep seating arrangements close.” — Anne Hepfer